Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization's computer networks and systems. Their responsibilities are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increase.


Information security analysts typically do the following:

  • Monitor their organization’s networks for security breaches and investigate a violation when one occurs
  • Install and use software, such as firewalls and data encryption programs, to protect sensitive information
  • Prepare reports that document security breaches and the extent of the damage caused by the breaches
  • Conduct penetration testing, which is when analysts simulate attacks to look for vulnerabilities in their systems before they can be exploited
  • Research the latest information technology (IT) security trends
  • Help plan and carry out an organization’s way of handling security
  • Develop security standards and best practices for their organization
  • Recommend security enhancements to management or senior IT staff
  • Help computer users when they need to install or learn about new security products and procedures

Information security analysts must continually adapt to stay a step ahead of cyberattackers. They must stay up to date on the latest methods attackers are using to infiltrate computer systems and on IT security. Analysts need to research new security technology to decide what will most effectively protect their organization. This may involve attending cybersecurity conferences to hear firsthand accounts of other professionals who have experienced new types of attacks.

IT security analysts are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan, a procedure that IT employees follow in case of emergency. The plan lets an organization’s IT department continue functioning. It includes preventative measures such as regularly copying and transferring data to an offsite location. It also involves plans to restore proper IT functioning after a disaster. Analysts continually test the steps in their recovery plans.

Because information security is important, these workers usually report directly to upper management. Many information security analysts work with an organization’s computer and information systems manager or Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to design security or disaster recovery systems.

Work Environment

Information security analysts held about 75,100 jobs in 2012. Most analysts work for computer companies, consulting firms, and business and financial companies. The industries that employed the most information security analysts in 2012 were as follows: 

Computer systems design and related services 27%
Finance and insurance 19
Information 10
Management of companies and enterprises 8

Very few information security analysts are self-employed.

Many information security analysts work with other members of an information technology department, such as network administrators or computer systems analysts.

Work Schedules

Most information security analysts work full time. Information security analysts sometimes have to be on call outside of normal business hours in case of an emergency at their organization.

Education and Training

Most information security analysts have a bachelor’s degree in a computer-related field. They also usually need experience in a related occupation.


Information security analysts usually need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, programming, or a related field. As information security continues to develop as a career field, many schools are responding with information security programs for prospective job seekers. These programs may become a common path for entry into the occupation. Currently, a well-rounded computer education is preferred.

Employers of information security analysts sometimes prefer applicants who have a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) in information systems. Programs offering the MBA in information systems generally require 2 years of study beyond the undergraduate level and include both business and computer-related courses.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Information security analysts generally need to have previous experience in a related occupation. Many analysts have experience in an information technology department, often as a network or systems administrator. Some employers look for people who have already worked in fields related to the one in which they are hiring. For example, if the job opening is in database security, they may look for a database administrator. If they are hiring in systems security, a computer systems analyst may be an ideal candidate.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

There are a number of information security certifications available and many employers prefer job candidates to have one. Some are general information security certificates, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, while others have a narrow focus, such as penetration testing or systems auditing.


Some information security analysts can advance to become a chief security officer or another type of computer and information systems manager.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Information security analysts must carefully study computer systems and networks and investigate any irregularities to determine if the networks have been compromised.

Detail oriented. Because cyberattacks can be difficult to detect, information security analysts pay careful attention to their computer systems and watch for minor changes in performance.

Ingenuity. Information security analysts try to outthink cybercriminals and invent new ways to protect their organization’s computer systems and networks.

Problem-solving skills. Information security analysts uncover and fix flaws in computer systems and networks.


The median annual wage for information security analysts was $86,170 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $49,960, and the top 10 percent earned more than $135,600.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for information security analysts in the top four industries in which these analysts worked were as follows:

Finance and insurance  $92,080
Information 91,440
Computer systems design and related services 88,270
Management of companies and enterprises 81,130

Most information security analysts work full time. Information security analysts sometimes have to be on call outside of normal business hours in case of an emergency at their organization.

Job Outlook

Employment of information security analysts is projected to grow 37 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Demand for information security analysts is expected to be very high. Cyberattacks have grown in frequency and sophistication over the last few years, and many organizations are behind in their ability to detect these attacks. Analysts will be needed to come up with innovative solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information or creating havoc on computer networks.

The federal government is expected to greatly increase its use of information security analysts to protect the nation’s critical information technology (IT) systems. In addition, as the healthcare industry expands its use of electronic medical records, ensuring patients’ privacy and protecting personal data are becoming more important. More information security analysts are likely to be needed to create the safeguards that will satisfy patients’ concerns.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for information security analysts should be good. Information security analysts with related work experience will have the best opportunities. For example, an applicant with experience as a database administrator would have better prospects in database security than someone without that experience.

For More Information

For more information about computer careers, visit

Association for Computing Machinery


Computing Research Association

For information about opportunities for women pursuing information technology careers, visit

National Center for Women and Information Technology

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook,


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